SAN FRANCISCO -- Selfishly, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez would like to put Jason Heyward in his lineup on a daily basis. But more importantly, he wants his talented young outfielder to remain fresh as the season's stretch run nears.
The Braves are 14 games into a stretch of playing on 20 consecutive days. Center fielder Michael Bourn had his chance to rest during Wednesday's series finale against the Nationals. The versatile Reed Johnson started in Bourn's place Wednesday and in right field for Heyward on Thursday.
"[Heyward] has been playing great," Gonzalez said. "He has raised his game since we moved him into that three-hole."
Heyward has batted .309 with 15 home runs and a .919 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) dating back to June 2. He has been positioned in the third spot of the lineup since June 29.
Chipper recalls vivid memories of San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO -- As Chipper Jones prepared to begin his last scheduled series in San Francisco on Thursday night, he reminisced about time spent at Candlestick Park and the many times he experienced the thrill of competing against Barry Bonds.
Jones chuckled and smirked when asked if he has vivid memories of Bonds hitting two walk-off home runs during a three-game series against the Braves in 2003. Ray King surrendered the first. Two days later, Trey Hodges felt legendary manager Bobby Cox's wrath when he allowed Bonds to cap a memorable series in dramatic fashion.
"That was one of the few times I really remember Bobby really losing it," Jones said. "He exploded those [clubhouse] doors after the second one that Bonds hit. It was just a profanity-laced tirade that you don't often hear from him. But it was definitely one that whoever was in this clubhouse will remember for years to come."
Jones also vividly remembers seeing Cox make the long walk down the right-field line to get to the clubhouse after getting ejected at Candlestick Park -- a stadium where Jones reached the 40-homer mark for the first and last time in 1999.
During playoff matchups in 2002 and 2010, Jones saw the great passion San Francisco fans have for their Giants. But it did not take a playoff setting for him to learn this fact. He laughed about some of the verbal jabs he received while playing left field, primarily during the 2002 and '03 seasons.
"I'll remember the treatment the fans give pretty much every left fielder out there in left field," Jones said. "It's not a place for women and children. I can tell you that. The playoff games that we played here, I've got a lot of memories of this place and they're not just at AT&T Park."
Before Thursday night's game, the Giants recognized Jones' final visit with a video tribute. Jones showed his appreciation by tipping his hat to the crowd.
Braves being careful with Simmons' rehab
SAN FRANCISCO -- Rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons has been peppering head athletic trainer Jeff Porter with text messages to alert him that he feels like he is ready to progress in his rehab process. But the Braves are continuing to take caution with Simmons, who has been sidelined since July 8 with a fractured right pinkie finger.
The specific location of Simmons' fracture has forced the Braves to wait as long as necessary before clearing him to begin playing Minor League rehab games. Until the bone has completely healed, Simmons risks the possibility of aggravating the injury to a point where he would need another two months of rehab.
Simmons is currently working out with the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves. He has been taking some dry swings, playing catch and hitting in the batting cage.
"It's probably the same time frame we've talked about from the beginning, but he's starting to do some stuff," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
The Braves are hoping Simmons might be ready to play again by the middle of September. But it is still too early for them to project when he might begin playing Minor League rehab games. With the organization's Minor League affiliates set to conclude their seasons Sept. 3, Simmons might get a limited opportunity to play in actual games.
If necessary, Simmons could play in simulated games or take live batting practice against some pitchers who need some work during the early portion of September.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.